When you awake in the itchy wool blanket on the sofa, the fire is dead, your fingers are ice, and the snow that has fallen overnight eclipses the windows like blackout curtains.
You do not know what time it is. Napoleon is still sleeping in the single bedroom of the terrible little cabin you are staked out in, tucked up into the Nova Scotia mountains where not even God can peer down and find you. You shiver as you shrug into your robe and trip in the dark upon cold feet to the door. It is nearly frozen shut, and when you do wrench it open, snow is piled up outside as high as your throat, and still falling. If the morning sun exists beyond the flurries of blizzard, you cannot see it through the gray, so you slam the door shut again, cursing, gooseflesh on your arms.
It is bad enough, being here in the Canadian wilderness with Napoleon Solo, from whom you cannot escape even if there are miles and miles between your body and his. It’s been two days since you arrived at this post, and you have tried your hardest to keep your distance. You took a long, brisk walk through the thicket of trees, their trunks green with peat moss. You chopped firewood even though there was plenty stacked in piles beside the stove. You ignored him when he offered you whiskey at night. You have kept your head down, your jaw set, and you have not pushed back when he hurtles into you like a falling star.
However, that was before the snow stole space from you. Now, it is just your body and his, in this cabin.
You scrub your hands through your hair, tug fistfuls of it until your scalp stings. The door of the wood stove squeaks in the quiet, and you hear Napoleon huff and roll over in bed, the sound of it tightening in your throat like a punch about to be thrown. As you lay kindling upon the grave of silent gray ash before tossing lit patches into the pyre, you imagine burrowing through the wall of snow outside until your hands are bloodied.
Eventually, he groans and emerges. His hair is in ten directions, probably, but you do not bother looking up from the new flames to confirm. “It’s dark,” he says groggily as he puts a saucepan of water on the stove to boil for the coffee he will inevitably complain about for not being strong enough, Turkish enough, bitter enough.
“We are snowbound,” you tell him, trying to sound angry, as if this is his fault. “The door is blocked.” He sighs and collapses on the sofa that you sleep on, arm all over your pillow. Finally, you look up, tongue metallic between your teeth. “Get off my bed.”
“It’s only your bed when we’re sleeping,” he says, studying you with his head cocked, a lopsided frown on his mouth, which is otherwise the most symmetrical thing you have ever seen. You are always wanting to tug the corner of it down with a thumb, bruise the lower lip so it swells. Do something so that he is not so statuesque. It is not that you want to make Napoleon Solo ugly—no mortal could ever win such a feat—but because you want to touch him in some lasting way. You want to leave marks. Drop blood onto white snow. Ruin, so that you are not something forgotten. “When I’m awake, it’s our couch.”
“You could sit on the ground,” you snap at him, tearing your gaze back to the fire and feeding it wood. The crackle illuminates your face, casts orange light onto the lines creased beneath your eyes. You suspect you look old by the light of something burning—weary from nights spent beneath an itchy blanket with cold feet, thinking about the man in the next room. Or else, trying not to think of him. Trying not to imagine dappled purple in the shape of your own knuckle carved into the flesh of his cheek.
He spreads out on the couch instead of moving to the ground, mussed hair on your pillow. The water is boiling, but he does not rouse to get it. “What on earth are we going to do snowed in like this with one couch you won’t even let me sit on?”
You grind your teeth, and shut the door of the wood stove. “Wait for it to melt,” you grit out.
It is you who panics like a dog, though.
After coffee, your blood races and you pace the cabin’s interior as the snow falls, and falls. Eventually, you pry the door back open and stab at the snow with the fire poker, planning to dig you both out, to create an escape route so that you might run from him. His infuriating profile, the Bombay Sapphire bottle blue of his eyes as they narrow at you in silent, barely concealed amusement.
But all that happens is that the ice crumbles and rolls in baseball-sized chunks into the cabin. The snow is otherwise impermeable, hopeless. You shut the door, and the ice turns into puddles. “You’re going to have to be patient, Peril,” he chides from over the chipped rim of his coffee cup. He’s already tipped whiskey into his second cup; your communicators are not working, so you cannot report back to U.N.C.L.E., which means there is nothing to do but wait. “We have the day off, perhaps you should relax for once. I thought you Russians liked the snow. That it made you feel at home, or something.”
“I do not like feeling trapped,” you tell him, imagining stabbing the poker into the couch right between his legs. With you, remains silent but implied.
He raises a brow, eyes flashing with something like mirth. This is how Napoleon Solo is: forever laughing at some inside joke with himself, at your expense. At first, you hated him for it. But then, after watching him nearly die enough times, your heart was broken and sewn back together all wrong, you changed. Now, you only want to know the joke. To be on the other side of it, to have him hold you down and thumb your jaw apart and spit it into your mouth, so that you might swallow, and laugh together. “Well, like it or not, we are trapped. So you can let all the cold in and dig a little hole to feel better, or you can have some whiskey with me and play a game of cards.”
You know when you have lost, so you shut the door, and come slinking back in to sit at his feet.
The day carries on, and the world grows darker and darker. The single light bulb does little to illuminate the room, but you find taper candles under the sink, hidden beneath steel wool and threadbare table cloths. They must have melted in the summer and hardened again because they no longer point straight up and down like a torch but twist like tree branches yearning toward light. They wobble in the jars you place them in and drip wax onto the table where Napoleon deals game after game of gin rummy, but at least you can see.
“We could switch, you know,” he says idly, gaze fixed on your pillow as you contemplate your hand of cards. When you don't answer, he presses on. “I could sleep out here, and you could have the bed. Perhaps you won’t be so terribly sour-faced all the time, then.”
You shake your head. The couch is uncomfortable, but you do not want the smell of his aftershave on your blankets. You do not want to be haunted by things you hate and want in equal measure even more than you already are. “Your turn, Cowboy,” you say, and he sighs, lips pursed.
It may be night, it may not. You are a little drunk. You keep staring at the solid white of the window, not knowing what time it is at all, feeling claustrophobic, worn thin and exhausted by so many crystalline white things. The snow. Napoleon’s fake smile. The sharp, pale line of his jaw under the sharper line of his straight razor that is revealed when he decides he must shave his stubble in front of the mirror, while you try your hardest not to watch.
Growing tired of gin, you switch to black jack, then to a variation of cribbage without the board. The strange gray of the world bleeds together the more whiskey you drink, and when neither of you can count anymore, you play go fish, as if you are children. Eventually, you feel yourself soften around the edges, the ice melting inside you even if it is not melting outside, and you stop being able to ignore things: the way he flushes in the firelight, the press of his tongue in the corner of his mouth as he shuffles, then deals. His hair comes undone from its gel and falls in a loose curl over his troubled brow, and you imagine brushing it away. Thumbing into the ditch. Licking the seam of his already parted lips wider, tasting rye on his teeth. How he might curl his fist around your throat if you ever tried that, how you might welcome it just as much as anything else.
Between games, you stumble to the door and open it again, sucking the fresh, winter air in from the several inches remaining of the night where the snow wall has not quite risen above the door frame. You gaze into the blackness, and wonder what it will take to drown the fire between your lungs.
When you shut the storm out and wander back to the couch, he is sitting differently: spread out, thighs parted, a darkness spilled in his eyes that makes your heart clench and your bones feel wary. You do not sit, you only stare.
“Peril,” he says, pressing his tongue obscenely into the flesh of his cheek. “Might I ask what you would be doing if iI wasn't here?”
You rub your palm over your jaw, hoping the scrape of several days of stubble will sober you up, bring you to life, silence your thudding heart. I would not be drinking so much. I would be sleeping at night. I could breathe, you think. Instead, you clear your throat and cross your arms over your chest like you might be able to guard yourself from his attack.
“I would be enjoying the peace and quiet,” you lie to him.
And then, something terrible and miraculous happens: Napoleon Solo smooths one of his broad, pale palms down his chest to between his thighs, where he pops the button of his trousers and thumbs into the gap. “Oh, really,” he says, as his fingers disappear. “You see—I—I’d be masturbating.”
Your mouth goes dry, and you rip your gaze away so quickly that your eyes water. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Napoleon asks, shifting his weight, situating himself there on the couch where you sleep, where your blanket and pillow have remained all day. “Masturbate? Well, you’re here, Peril, so I suppose I don’t have to.”
Time inches on, quiet save for the roar of blood in your ears. You cannot look, you do not look. You stare out the window to where there is nothing but darkness and white, which are somehow the same today, in your prison of snow. “You don’t want to help?” Napoleon asks. You drink in the sound of him lifting his hips, working his trousers down around his thighs, taking himself in hand. “Illya,” he says then, gently, so earnestly that it makes your throat ache with things unsaid. “You can drop the charade, I’m not a blind man, I see how you look at me. It would be an absurd thing to miss in such close quarters. Like looking into a mirror of the way I look at you.”
You hear each word. They imbed themselves in your skin like splinters, beneath your nails like filth. You suck in a breath, and then Napoleon makes a choked, pitying sound in his throat at you. “Illya,” he says, your name voiced twice tonight, as if you are something to be called upon, invoked, summoned. “Come here, please. This doesn’t have to be whatever tragedy you’ve written. It can be very simple, and very good.”
Your leaden legs crumble, and you make your way across the floor to him, breathing hard, head bent in shame until your brow presses to his knee, imploring. The world swims, and then his hands are in your hair, dragging you, pulling you close until you can smell the musk of his half-hard cock, feel the infernal heat of it against your cheek. You palm up his thigh, make a fist in his untucked shirt. “Tell me what to do,” you manage to choke out, fire building in your stomach, thickening between your thighs. “And I will do it.”
He hums in the back of his throat, and then he brushes his fingertips over yours. “Do you want to suck it?” he asks in a low voice, hand moving to thumb over the corner of your mouth, watching you part and drool as if this has been what your body was fashioned for since it was built in heaven.
“Yes,” you admit. Single syllables come easier than longer words, so you say it again, voice muffled by his skin. “Yes. Yes. Yes.”
He curses, then brings you closer, lays the slick-wet tip of his cock on your lower lip. There’s stickiness, the salt of the sea, the bitterness of cyanide, and you groan with abandon as you swallow it down, liquor thudding in your head as he guides you, hand rough and gentle all at once. You have done this before, some years ago when you were drunker, the alley was darker, and you knew you’d never see the man again. But this—this is different. Napoleon touches you. He talks to you. He cups your face as he fucks into your mouth, and the smell of his skin is everywhere, inescapable, yours to drown in. You palm up your stomach and work your hand under his shirt to his chest, tangling your fingers in the thick curls between his pecs, up to the bobbing line of his throat as he swallows. “God, Illya,” he breathes as you lave your tongue over his slit, working his foreskin over the cockhead so that you might fuck your tongue into the intimate pocket of skin. “I knew—knew you’d be like this. Sloppy mouth. Wet like a cunt.”
You groan, drooling into the thick mess of his pubic hair as you slide down, burying your lips in it, choking yourself until your eyes stream. And this is perhaps what you truly want, when you are imagining a bruise on his lip. His hand on your throat. To be marked indelibly, and marked in return. To be taken and manipulated and pushed and owned, so that you do not have to be responsible for the filthy things you crave from Napoleon Solo.
He hooks his finger into your mouth alongside his cock, filling you up, touching your teeth. “Have you thought of me fucking you? Bet you open up easy, Peril. Bet I could spread you out and get you wet on my tongue, and you’d beg me to fuck you right here, on this couch you won't let me sit on.”
You pull off, eyes half-lidded, mouth swollen as you try to focus on him. The shadowed hollows beneath the bones of his cheeks, handsome and marble-hewn and begging to be shattered. “You have been sitting on this couch all day,” you rasp as you touch him, rubbing over his scars, the segments of muscle in his stomach, the anxious thunder of his heart. “You may fuck me on it, too.”
His eyes flash then, moved. It hurts you to see. So rarely do you get to witness his vulnerability, his blood. You let go of him long enough to roll your sweatpants down over your hips, cock bobbing against the tight flat of your stomach as he hauls you up with a fist in your shirt and manhandles you so that you’re splayed out on your stomach, pillow bunched beneath your hips. And then he does all that he said he would do. He holds you open, teases you with his breath, keeps you there gasping, cock twitching in want until finally, finally he presses his smile right into the center of you. “I love how you smell,” he gasps then, spitting on your hole, everything so much wetter and filthier than you ever imagined it could be in your most indulgent dreams of him. “I love how bad you want it. Everything you ever do gives you away. I’ve noticed for so long.” He drools and licks until you are raw from the prickle of his newly shaved jaw.
“Why—why did you not take me then, if you knew?” you bite out, reaching around to make a punishing fist in his hair, drawing him closer until he is groaning. “I have been yours, I—I have—”
“I said I noticed,” he murmurs, nipping at your thigh, pressing his thumb into your core until the pressure breaches your body, and you cry out. “I didn’t know. Took being stuck with you in a two-room cabin all day to truly assess the situation beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
You gasp, gritting your teeth as he licks messily around his thumb before withdrawing and rising to his knees, pressing his cock lengthwise into the crack of your ass and thrusting against it, crown snagging against your swollen hole, driving you mad. You would let him push inside you to come there, you would do anything. You are marked, sold, his. He does not take you, though. He reaches between the friction of your body against the couch and takes your cock in hand, grip certain and rough, mouth against your ear as he pants. “There’s olive oil in the kitchen. Late tonight, in that bed, I’ll bend you in half, put your knees over my shoulder, and hollow you out. Fuck you how you need it, pump you full of come, Illya, but right now, I want you to finish all over this godawful couch so that neither of us can sit on it, it’s so wet,” he demands, thrusting so it burns, so that your body rocks beneath his weight, rutting desperately in his palm.
And it does not take much, to push you into the static of oblivion. But it is not Napoleon’s cock against your hole, or his fist around your length, or even the filthy litany against the shell of your ear that does you in for good: it is Napoleon’s other hand, which moves to cup your throat and thumb beneath the hinge of your jaw where your pulse flutters, so that you cannot breathe without great, struggling effort. And that—that is all you need. The knowledge that your life is in Napoleon Solo’s hands, whether you like it or not. The promise of the semi-permanent bruise his grip will leave. The relentless ache, the static behind your eyes, the abandon of madness. You spill in ribbons against the couch with a groan, and he follows soon after, pressed into the frantic pulsing of your hole, slicking the arch of your back in filthy white.
Then, he collapses into you, pressing kisses into the ditch between your shoulder blade, the place where sweat has collected like the promise of melting snow. “Earlier,” he pants. “You said, I do not like feeling trapped, and I knew—I knew it was a lie. I’ve always known that what you needed most was to be backed into a corner, held down, taken.”
You cannot fight the dizzy smile across your lips. It spreads there like blood after a fatal wound. “I thought you said you didn’t know. Took you long enough, either way.”
He rolls you over, and then his lips are on yours, and you bite the bottom one until it is swollen, just how you want it. “Do you think the ice will melt tomorrow?” he breathes, hands all over your chest, cupping your heartbeat between his palms like he wants to keep it.
“I hope not,” you admit. “Now that we have something better to do than gin rummy.”
He tucks his fingers into you again, and you hold him tightly there, like a promise of fire to thaw.